Apparently this is a store for kids' stuff. I mean, I can't disagree with them. There are lots of unicorn things, polka dots, balloons, animal glass stirs, cute birthday cards, rainbow pillows, rainbow glasses, rainbow purses, rainbow balloons, rainbow birthday cards, rainbows... It has a certain point of view, let's just say. Also, everything is meticulously laid out. Mdme LaSerieuse had definitely paid a visit before I entered this pristine store where every single cup was perfectly piled up and squared off against an equally and well-stacked pair of cloud pillows. I mean, if bébés are their business, then business is good.
Despite the fact that they seem to be adamant about their premise that the store is for kids only -- somehow I couldn't stop picking up various and assundry items for myself: a raffia throw pillow with pick-stitching; a CLUSE watch; a gold horse-shoe pendent necklace; a rainbow purse; a rainbow pillow; a rainbow unicorn... damn.
BUK & NOLA
1593 Laurier east
Montreal, Quebec H2J 1J1
You know when you are walking down the street and you suddenly feel like eating something home-cooked, warm, and nostalgic? But you also don't want to get saddled into an hour long meal just for that kind of experience? Franco Grattuso knows exactly what you're talking about. With only 10 products for sale -- including his secret "Salsa Della Nonna" -- this tiny little food outlet on Mile End's trendy Rue Fairmount let's you line up for mere seconds for the chance to enjoy his family recipe for tomato sauce. Drizzled over home-made gnocchi with fresh parmesan presented in a Chinese take-out paper box, it will make your knees buckle. Ti lo promesso.
8 Fairmount Street West
You won't find this place on many 'best of' lists (at least, not yet) -- or even just by simply walking down the street. That's because the Atwater Cocktail Club doesn't want to be found. The force behind Foiegwa has made sure of this by tucking it away at the end of a graffiti-covered alley that is poorly lit, even during the day.
As we were being whisked down the alley after a superb meal at Foiegwa, we were feeling apprehensive, at best. Why isn't there a sign above the door? What's with the large black door? Why is there a bouncer outside? Why hasn't someone mentioned this to us -- other than the peeps from Foiegwa? All of these questions were running through our minds as we entered the low-lit cavernous speak-easy that was full to the brim even on a Tuesday night. D'oh. So silly, we had been.
The interior is a throw-back to the days of Al Capone with red tufted leather banquettes and everything else either black, shiny or mirrored. Designed by the Gaulay Brothers, you can't help but immediately want to sit down and order a drink. And drink, we did, thanks to an original cocktail list and impressive cave selection.
ATWATER COCKTAIL CLUB
512 Avenue Atwater, Montréal
T. (438) 387-4252
It's always ok to wear sequins. Just looking at these super-sequined booties by MAISON MARIGELA puts a smile on my face. The perspex block heel make we want them more.
PAILLETTE BOOTIES by MAISON MARGIELA
Heel 3 inches
Made in Italy
Available at net-a-porter.com
I took my better half for his birthday dinner to Foiegwa this week after seeing much a doo about it on social media. I will admit that the name was initially the most appealing element -- I always appreciate humor and food, especially when mixed together. Turns out it was just one of many appealing shit. When we entered the cozy French diner, we were (pleasantly) surprised by how compact it is. I mean, there are likely no more than 30 tables. Parfait.
Depite its name (that mocks English--speaking Canadians' inability to pronounce foiegras), Foiegwa only offers 1 true dish with foiegras (there is an appetizer with chicken liver pate, but this is, well, not foiegras). Oh and there is also foiegras as an option on one or two burgers. But who cares. All of these food is instatiable. We ordered frogs legs and mussles with clams and our mouths slaivate even today as I write this.
We bonded with our server of the evening (who is also one of the partners, Gabriel, such as sweetie). He was informative, friendly, and opinionated. Just how we like them. And maybe we were just how he liked us? Because after dinner, they whisked us away to their new and yet little known sister venue, the Atwater Cocktail Club. Now that is what I call 'service.'
3001 Notre-Dame St W
Top it off with this Jeeves Hat pendant by INNERMOST. Just under 10 inches wide, this witty pendant is handmade in wool felt and an anodized gold interior.
About INNERMOST: In 1999, Steve Jones and Russell Cameron quit their design jobs to build a furniture and lighting brand called Innermost, which would both celebrate their native London and embrace diverse viewpoints. Local designers flocked to the studio in search of collaboration, and it soon became a destination for design talent including Rich Brilliant Willing and Michael Young.
Jeeves Hat Pendant Lamp
H 5.10” W 9.80” D 11.80”
Available at fab.com
Avenue Laurier is fast becoming what St Laurent once was: lively, trendy, and charmant. Restaurants, bars and well-edited stores keep cropping up like designer weeds, while the area is alive with dog-walking Mile-Enders and their PA Nature shopping bags, converse sneakers & rolled-up skinny jeans.
One noteworthy new/old locale is l'autre bar. As understated as it is cool (notice the all lower-case name), this bar dates all the way back to 1936 when it first opened its doors in Outrement. Then a 'dry' neighbourhood, La Taverne de La Veuve Wilson (Widow Wilson's Tavern), as it was originally named, quickly became the go-to for students and local patrons alike. I learned all of this thanks to a printed blurb on the wall near our patio-adjacent table, while we spoke to one of the partners who explained how they had recently refurbished this historic landmark after it had become run-down over the last few decades under the previous ownership. (I love it when people help me write my blog posts).
The bar features more than 40 varieties of beer with a dozen or so local micro-breweries from Quebec, as well as a serious wine list and a selection of what they call 'amuse-gueules' to help you soak up all of that alcohol.
278 rue Laurier Ouest
Sid Lee's transformation of an old river ferry into a world class luxury floating spa-boat is definitely nose-worthy. Docked in the Old Port with former factories as a backdrop, the story of Bota Bota begins in the 1950's when it served as a ferry between Sorel and Berthier, Quebec, until 1967 when it became a show boat, L'Escale, for the next few decades.
Fast forward to 2008: the Emond family purchases the then-retired ferry with a dream of transforming it into a floating spa. After a massive metamorphosis and the help of their friends at Sid Lee, Bota Bota, spa-sur-l’eau opened in 2010 with a full gamut of health and beauty treatments: steam rooms, Finnish saunas, a nail bar, massage therapy, facials, manis and pedis, to name but a few. Its most trafficked service -- the water circuit -- allows you to soak in a variety of heated outdoor pools while Bota Bota floats gently below you.
Their restaurant, L'Auberge sur la Route, also doesn't hold back on the eau-so-magnifique. With Michelin-starred chef Éric Gonzalez at its helm, you can indulge in a healthy gastronomic experience while enjoying unobstructed views of of the St Lawrence.
Old Port of Montreal
Corner of McGill and de la Commune Ouest